As an Ursuline School, we celebrate the Feast of St. Angela Merici on January 27th. St. Angela founded the Company of St. Ursula in 1535 in Brescia, Italy. The members of the company were women who consecrated themselves to God, but lived with their families or employers rather than entering a monastery, where they would be secluded from the world. Angela’s idea was that the members would meet on a regular basis for prayer and to support each other, while being immersed in the world and developing a spirituality that enriched those around them. The concept was revolutionary for that time and place; and became very popular, not only in Brescia, but spread throughout Italy and into other European countries.
As the religious congregation evolved, education became the ministry of the community and today, Ursuline Schools exist in almost every country. Ursulines came to North America as the first women missionaries—settling in Quebec, Canada in 1639. They established the first Catholic girl’s school in the United States, landing in New Orleans in 1727. The Ursulines of Brown County were founded in 1845 by Sister Julia Chatfield at the invitation of John Baptist Purcell, the Bishop of Ohio; coming from France to begin schools in the wilderness.
Chatfield College was an outgrowth of the educational program designed for the young women entering the Brown County, Ursuline community. With time, the people in the local area, who had never had the opportunity to attend college classes, exhibited significant interest in furthering their education as well. The Ursulines responded to this interest by incorporating the school as Chatfield College in 1971, opening the doors and welcoming those who came.
As followers of St. Angela Merici, the Brown County Ursulines are women who meet on a regular basis for prayer and to support each other while serving the needs of those we meet. Like St. Angela, we believe that God is with us in all that we are and do, endeavoring to share the gifts of God’s life and love with our families, students, co-workers and friends.
Happy Feast of St. Angela!
Sister Patricia Homan